Inflatable fenders from Taylor Made and Polyform or welded seam fenders from Megafend, Aere, and Prostock Marine have been popular on mega yachts for years, but have not made their way into the sportfish world until recently. We have seen a great increase in sales of these yacht style fenders. Some customers switch over completely from molded style fenders to welded seam inflatable style fenders. So, we decided to look at the pros and cons of each.
Molded Fenders (Polyform and Taylor Made)
The good… Their tough rubber skin has made them a must have on sportfish boats for years because of their 'commercial boat' durability against abrasion on concrete, wood docks and pilings, and their ability to hold up to sharp objects and resist puncture wounds.
The Bad… Weight: molded fenders are considerably heavier. An A5 vs a 28” round welded seam fender is 19lbs vs 7 lbs. Carrying them to the bow or down the side of the house is a pain and can be downright dangerous some days.
Inflation and storage: An air compressor is needed to inflate a molded fender and they do not store well. The bigger ones will barely fit through the salon door.
Inflatable Fenders (Megafend, Prostock Marine, Aere)
The good… Weight: for their size and capability they are very light and can be easily carried around the boat.
Inflation and Storage: They can be inflated and deflated with a compact shop vac in 30 seconds and compress down to a very small space for easy storage.
The Bad... Inflatable style welded seam fenders are not as puncture or abrasion resistant as molded fenders, but they are surprisingly durable compared to popular belief in the sportfish world.
So, which is best?
Well… The answer for us is both! Maybe keep one or two molded fenders onboard for emergencies or docking situations that require more abrasion resistance, but for everyday use and traveling most of our customers find that the lightweight inflatable fenders from companies like Megafend, Prostock Marine, Aere are preferred. Travel with more fenders and keep them stored away for extra peace of mind. Having a whole cockpit full of big fenders while traveling is no longer necessary.
For Center Console Boats...
Let's not forget about our center console friends out there! Lightweight inflatable style fenders are available in smaller sizes too. Smaller boats have limited storage space and with a hand pump you can have plenty of them onboard to keep you from damaging your boat during raft ups or certain docking situations!
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